A former cop has come under fire for posting a picture of his little niece holding a massive shotgun on Facebook.
The girl, who looks no older than 12 and has her hair in pigtails, was photographed in a house.
In the post, Randall Petersen, 55, the owner of Randy’s Shooting Range and Shooting Academy, explains that he was teaching the young girl how to fire a gun so that she could protect herself from criminals.
The Facebook post reads: “Teaching my niece ... to protect her. Crime is on the increase. SA is no longer safe to reside in. Hijacking, kidnapping, rape, housebreaking. No respect for the elderly. Murder has become a fashion.”
Petersen claims his niece was 15 when the photo was taken and that the gun wasn’t loaded at the time.
But Facebook users were not impressed, and told him he was irresponsible for allowing a child to handle a firearm.
Samantha Hurling wrote: “Teaching your family is not an issue, teaching a child is. Children should be allowed to be children without having to worry about grown-up stuff.
“I have a problem with the fact that you are training and exposing a child.”
Cheryl Engelbrecht said: “Why are you using your niece by letting her pose in FB, also not a good example especially in violent times.”
While Elizabeth Mampane said point blank: “I hope she practices on you by accident.”
But Petersen, who has military training, doesn’t understand the fuss, and says he and his family “grew up with guns”.
He wrote: “Yes, it is imperative to share this with my family how to handle firearms, so sad that I’m now blamed for not being mentally stable.”
He also claimed that “none of his 8 000 students” over the years have ever been shot while handling a weapon.
Petersen, who worked at Manenberg, Hout Bay and Grassy Park SAPS, opened a shooting range in the 1980s but sold the property a few years ago.
He now books time at various shooting ranges across the city to train mense.
By late afternoon, he posted another message: “My inbox was flooded, calls were made and I was reported to police...”
Petersen, an ordained minister, motivational speaker, and an accredited risk assessment officer, tells Daily Voice he is teaching all his younger relatives how to handle a gun.
He says he is fed up with crime, after being a victim of an armed robbery, near hijacking and numerous house break-ins, where his paralysed 23-year-old son had been present.
“As a citizen I am irate with the escalation of crime,” he says.
“I was stabbed 16 times in the Town Centre mall and lost 3.5 litres of blood during the robbery. I was left for dead.
“Two weeks ago along the R300 and Jakes Gerwel Drive three black males tried to open the door of my car.
“But with my military training, I always keep two cars’ space in between and could get away.”
He says people have misunderstood his intentions with the Facebook post.
“My niece is 17 years old and the photograph was taken last year when she was 15,” he insists.
“My passion is weaponry. When I train a child that shows interest, there is this attack.
“The shotgun wasn’t loaded and her finger, if you look at the picture, is not on the trigger and has a safety guard.
“We, as a family, we would rather make our children aware of firearms in the event of something happening at home.
“My own children used to go with me to the shooting range when they were little and I would never leave them alone around a loaded firearm. I am always with them, even with my niece, I was standing right next to her.”
But Gun Free South Africa’s Adele Kirsten says Petersen placed his niece at risk of injury.
“Shotguns are not defence weapons and should not even be kept in a house,” she says.
And she says although what Petersen did won’t get him arrested, children should not be allowed to handle guns.
“Why teach a child to shoot? It is not the job of the child to defend himself against violence.”
Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel André Traut referred the Daily Voice to the Firearms Control Act of 2000, in which it states that a person who is able to possess a firearm permit must be 18 years and older, and that firearms at home must be kept in a safe at all times.